It has emerged a Co Tyrone woman jailed for a massive £1.9 million fraud from her employers was previously sacked from a job in a bank for stealing cash.
While it would have shown Julie McBrien (47), also known as Hogg, from Screeby Road, Fivemiletown had a propensity for theft, there was no criminal record as the matter wasn’t reported to police but instead dealt with in-house.
This was the decision reached by management of the Enniskillen branch of the then Northern Bank, now owned by Danske Bank.
McBrien is currently serving a five-and-a-half-year prison term for defrauding her employers out of vast sums of cash, funding a luxury jet-set lifestyle complete with a mansion set in its own grounds.
In a particularly devious ploy to divert attention away from her fraud activity, McBrien claimed to be suffering from the same rare cancer as a relative of one of the company directors.
Knowing this would evoke sympathy and afford her paid time off work, by telling the director “in confidence” that she did not want anyone else to know, meant she was not required to produce any evidence.
While she was supposedly off work on various days for chemotherapy, she was in fact indulging in her lavish, pampered lifestyle.
A psychiatrist retained by McBrien’s defence team ahead of sentencing told the court this type of behaviour was indicative of ‘Martyr Syndrome’, and as the third daughter out of four in her family, she felt excluded when growing up, but had been left to care for their elderly parents.
The long-running case went on for six years, during which McBrien was afforded unprecedented latitude by the courts, including a ban on reporting her identity after she threatened to self-harm if she was exposed.
However, it now appears there may have been a second reason for keeping her name out of press, as former employees of the bank in question have come forward on learning that the mystery woman in the £1.9 million fraud case – who almost brought Northern Mouldings to collapse – was in fact their former colleague.
A spokesperson for Heron Brothers confirmed McBrien did not include her time with the bank in her employment history when applying for the post at Northern Mouldings Limited, so checks were unable to be carried out ahead of her appointment.
It has been confirmed McBrien was disciplined by the bank in 1994, resulting in her dismissal.
The bank did not involve police; however, as a prerequisite, a debt recovery plan was put in place, and the money she was responsible for taking fraudulently was repaid to the bank in full.
Despite being offered multiple opportunities to comment, the bank has refused to do so.
Danske Bank’s external communications company were asked a series of questions around the theft, including why a decision was taken not to prosecute.
Given this wasn’t only theft but a serious breach of trust, confirmation was sought as to who made the decision, or on whose instructions the matter was dealt with in-house.
Their spokesperson replied: “This is not something the bank wants to comment on.”
As more information came to light, a second and third offer to comment was afforded, to which the spokesperson said: “As advised, this is not something the bank will be commenting on. Thank you for offering them the opportunity to do so.”
The Financial Conduct Authority were asked to clarify if they were notified of the incident and the subsequent decision taken in-house to dismiss the employee with a prerequisite of not pressing charges, if the money was repaid in full.
They were also asked to carry out an investigation into the handling of the incident and the strenuous efforts made to keep it quiet.
This is of particular importance, as customers and the public in general are entitled to know their funds are secure and have confidence in those entrusted with their financial matters.
However, a spokesperson replied: “This isn’t something we can comment on.”
Meanwhile, Proceeds of Crime action is ongoing to recover assets accrued from McBrien’s vast fraud enterprise, which includes her mansion set in its own grounds in Fivemiletown.
Her estranged husband, Paul McBrien, who now lives in Dubai, has instructed lawyers as to a claim on some assets.
He previously found himself in the dock of Dungannon Magistrates Court two weeks ahead of McBrien’s appearance in 2016, having allegedly brutally beaten her when the extent of her offending had come to light following a police search of the house.
She then appeared in the same court, initially charged with more than 600 fraud and theft offences, and was granted anonymity over her threats to self-harm if named in press, although she expressed no such concerns over being identified as an alleged victim of domestic violence.
Within a matter of weeks, the charges against Mr. McBrien were dropped.